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Search and Seizure Law Basics: What You Need to Know if Asked to Consent to a Search of Your Property

Being stopped by police while driving, or having police show up at your home, can be extremely intimidating and nerve-wracking. If this happens to you, you may have questions about what your legal rights are and whether or not you have to consent to a search if asked to do so. Here’s an overview of what you should know about search and seizure laws in Rochester, NY. To learn more, call our criminal defense attorney at the office of King Law directly.

What Is the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the law that places limits on the ability of law enforcement to conduct searches of suspects’ property and persons. The law reads that people have a right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures…” 

What Is an “Unreasonable” Search and Seizure?

While the Fourth Amendment may prohibit unreasonable search and seizure, it does allow for reasonable search and seizure. Reasonable search and seizure refers to search and seizures that are conducted only when:

  1. The police have probable cause to believe that the suspect in question has committed a crime;
  2. The police have a warrant to conduct a search that has been issued by a judge; or
  3. The suspect in question consents to the search.

Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. In order to conduct a search without a warrant and without the suspect’s consent, an officer must have evidence of some sort that would lead a reasonable person, in possession of the same evidence, to conclude that a crime has been committed, is in the process of being committed, or will soon be committed.

Do I Have to Consent to a Search?

If you are stopped by the police or if the police show up at your home and they do not have a warrant, you do not have to consent to a search. Police may request to search your vehicle during a traffic stop, for example—you should politely refuse to allow the search. Unless police have probable cause, they cannot legally search your vehicle. 

What Happens If My Rights Under the Fourth Amendment Are Breached?

Sometimes, police conduct searches unlawfully—they do not have probable cause, a search warrant, or the suspect’s consent. If you have been charged with a crime, you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer in Rochester immediately. If evidence has been obtained against you in violation of your Constitutional rights, your criminal lawyer can ensure that this evidence is withheld from court and not used against you. 

Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Rochester, NY Today

If you have been the victim of an unlawful search and seizure or if you are facing criminal charges, you need a skilled criminal lawyer on your side. To learn more about your rights under the law and how a criminal attorney can help, please reach out to the office of King Law immediately today. The sooner you call our experienced attorney, the sooner we can start building your defense.

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